Billionaire casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, 85, undergoing cancer treatment

Sheldon Adelson (above, in November 2018) reportedly has not been at his company’s offices in Las Vegas since around Christmas Day.
Sheldon Adelson (above, in November 2018) reportedly has not been at his company’s offices in Las Vegas since around Christmas Day.PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (WASHINGTON POST) - Sheldon Adelson, billionaire casino magnate and one of the Republican Party's most prolific financiers, is undergoing treatment for cancer, his company confirmed on Friday (March 1).

Side effects from the treatment for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma have restricted Adelson's availability to travel or keep regular office hours, but have not prevented him from fulfilling his duties as chairman and chief executive of his company, Las Vegas Sands spokesman Ron Reese said in a statement.

Adelson reportedly has not been at his company's offices in Las Vegas since around Christmas Day.

Adelson, 85, and his wife, Miriam, 73, have spent heavily over the years to boost GOP candidates andoutside groups. They are two of President Donald Trump's most generous backers, having spent US$20 million (S$27 million) to support his candidacy in the 2016 election.

The Adelsons are closely intertwined in their political giving, say Republican fundraisers familiar with the couple's decision-making. They describe Miriam - a physician - as a coequal in all political decisions.

Still, Sheldon Adelson's ailing health raises questions about how Miriam's growing influence may affect the family's giving, those familiar with the couple's political donations said.

"Dr Adelson is very involved, and in many respects even more political than he is," said one GOP operative who requested anonymity to discuss private donor matters. "I don't know what the impact would be. She's very involved in all things politics."

A spokesman for the couple did not respond to requests for comment on Friday.

Under Trump, the Adelsons have achieved some long-held goals, including seeing the US Embassy in Israel moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Recently, the Justice Department released a legal opinion that could further restrict Internet gambling - a change Sheldon Adelson had backed for years.

The Adelsons were the largest Republican donors in the 2018 midterms, spending more than US$112 million to super PACs, largely to groups working to help the GOP retain control in Congress.

Late last year, President Trump awarded the highest civilian honour, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, to Miriam Adelson.

Critics blasted the decision, questioning her qualifications for the award and whether her selection was related to her status as one of the GOP's wealthiest backers.

Details of Adelson's declining health were first reported by the Nevada Independent and The Associated Press.

During a hearing involving Las Vegas Sands at the Clark County District Court earlier this week, a company lawyer told the district judge Adelson has not been seen at the company's corporate offices since Christmas, the Nevada Independent reported.

The lawyer, Jim Jimmerson, told the judge of the "dire nature" of Adelson and his health, according to hearing transcripts obtained by the Nevada Independent.